Fine Gael cronyism in judicial appointments ‘cannot be swept under the carpet’ – Matt Carthy TD
“The acceptance by Justice Minister, Helen McEntee, that the her party leader Leo Varadkar had suggested that Seamus Woulfe ‘would make a good judge’ was evidence enough of Fine Gael cronyism in this matter.” So said local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy this week.
Deputy Carthy said that everyone who understands politics knows that a reference of this nature from a party leader to a newly appointed Minister “is less of a comment and more of an instruction. These comments explain why Fine Gael went to such lengths to prevent a Dáil debate on the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court. It is because the cronyism at play cannot be denied, it cannot either be swept under the carpet”.
Deputy Carthy had spoken in the Dáil debate that followed Minister McEntee’s statement last Thursday. He said that the appointment of Seamus Woulfe represents all that is rotten in Irish politics. He said it was ordinary workers and families who paid the price.
In his contribution, Teachta Carthy said:
“We are here today because Fine Gael in Government has a problem with cronyism, they have a problem with doing favours for insiders.
“And they have a big problem being held to account when caught out.
“This is the second time in only three weeks that a senior Fine Gael Minister has had to come before the Dáil to answer questions about their conduct.
“First – the Fine Gael leader for leaking confidential information to his political ally when he was Taoiseach.
“Now the Fine Gael Minister for Justice regarding the highly questionable manner in which the former Attorney General and Fine Gael supporter Seamus Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court.
“Both cases stink to high heavens.
“Both Ministers had to be dragged into the Dáil kicking and screaming.
“Why? Because Fine Gael doesn’t do accountability.
“Fine Gael does do arrogance though. In spades.
“Whether it is one former Minister Brian Hayes seamlessly moving to become the champion of the banks & vultures or another Fine Gael Minister Michael D’arcy moving straight into a cushy job as a lobbyist for high finance. Time and time again we see the arrogance of the Fine Gael old boys network.
“This arrogance is not without consequence.
“The behaviour exposes all that is rotten in Irish politics – favours for friends, cronyism and insider deals.
“Ordinary people pay.
“Those looking for a home; people waiting for a hospital bed; families struggling with mortgages and insurance costs; workers looking for decent jobs and wages.
“Instead of focusing on what is best for our people, Fine Gael every single time is focused on what is best for their friends in high places. People go without so that Fine Gael’s friends can have it all.
“This Fine Gael arrogance is at the centre of this controversy.
“The Minister insulted the Dáil for weeks by resisting calls to come in here and answer questions.
“Now, you’re insulting the intelligence of the people by offering up implausible scenarios – when the truth is that this judicial appointment was an old-fashioned political stroke – it’s as simple as that!
“Instead of bringing clarity, you have sought to muddy the waters in the hope that people will tire of the matter.
“I hate to break to you folks – but it hasn’t worked.
“Everyone knows that this was a shady deal. They know it stinks.
They know what it looks like when people in power box off a job for their political friends. Because they have seen it all before.
“The reason why the process appears all over the place is because there was no process. The dogs on the street know this.
“The reason why the Minister can’t properly explain how she whittled four names down to one is because she didn’t.
“It wasn’t even as crass as Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. This was Eeny, eeney, eeny- Wolfe!
“This was a done deal well before Helen McEntee became Minister for Justice.
“This appointment wasn’t decided inside the Department of Justice – It was decided inside Fine Gael.
“Everybody knows that this was a done deal and Fine Gael are trying take the people for fools.
“Just as they took the Taoiseach for a fool and kept him in the dark about an appointment to the highest court in the land.
“So determined was Fine Gael to get their man the job that they ran rings around Micheál Martin to make sure that it happened.
“It is not often that I agree with a Fianna Fáiler. Rarer still is it that I agree with Dermot Ahern.
“But when former Minister for Justice wrote – ‘It now seems that leading Fine Gael members pulled a fast one by rushing to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with their own former Attorney General. The incoming Taoiseach should have smelt a rat. He is long enough around’ – he was bang on.
“Fine Gael wiped Micheál’s eye in rewarding a loyal friend with a highly paid and powerful job.
“For all the talk of new politics from Fine Gael, here we are again being dragged back to the old days and the old ways.
“It is this culture of arrogance, so typical of Fine Gael, that ensures governments come and go and nothing changes.
“Well people are sick to the back teeth of it.
“They are sick of the political stokes, the ‘who you know’ manoeuvring, they are sick of Fine Gael cronyism.
“And, they are determined that the days of the old boys network and of the insider backdoor deals are well and truly numbered”.